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 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter

Holistic-online.com

Stroke

Effects of a Stroke: Possible Disabilities From a Stroke

Paralysis or problems controlling movement (motor control)

Paralysis is one of the most common disabilities resulting from stroke. The paralysis or weakness may affect only the face, an arm, or a leg or may affect one entire side of the body and face. A person who suffers a stroke in the left hemisphere of the brain will show right-sided paralysis or paresis. Conversely, a person with a stroke in the right hemisphere of the brain will show deficits on the left side of the body.

This one-sided paralysis is called hemiplegia. A related disability that is not as debilitating as paralysis is one-sided weakness or hemiparesis.

Stroke patients with hemiparesis or hemiplegia may have difficulty with everyday activities such as walking, dressing, eating, and using the bathroom. 
Damage to a lower part of the brain, the cerebellum, can affect the body's ability to coordinate movement, a disability called ataxia, leading to problems with body posture, walking, and balance.

Some stroke patients also have trouble eating and swallowing, called dysphagia, due to damage to the part of the brain that controls the muscles for swallowing.

Cognitive deficits: Problems with thinking and memory

Stroke may cause problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory. If the cognitive problems are severe, the stroke patient may be said to have apraxia, agnosia, or "neglect." A stroke patient may have no knowledge of one side of his or her body, or one side of the visual field, and is unaware of the deficit. He or she may also be unaware of the surroundings, or may be unaware of the mental deficits that resulted from the stroke.

Stroke can cause damage to parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, and awareness. Stroke survivors may have dramatically shortened attention spans or may experience deficits in short-term memory. Individuals also may lose their ability to make plans, comprehend meaning, learn new tasks, or engage in other complex mental activities.

Two fairly common deficits resulting from stroke are:

  1. Anosognosia, an inability to acknowledge the reality of the physical impairments resulting from stroke.

  2. Neglect, the loss of the ability to respond to objects or sensory stimuli located on one side of the body, usually the stroke-impaired side.

Apraxia: Stroke survivors who develop apraxia lose their ability to plan the steps involved in a complex task and to carry the steps out in the proper sequence. Stroke survivors with apraxia may also have problems following a set of instructions. Apraxia appears to be caused by a disruption of the subtle connections that exist between thought and action.

Source: National Institutes of Health

Caution: If you suspect a stroke, seek emergency medical treatment immediately. Time is of essence.

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